Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Side effects.

As a side effect of being sick yesterday morning, I was exposed to a full dose of the Today show, or at least the parts I didn't doze through. Some observations:
  • That Hoda chick is tall. And I don't say that lightly. And her name is frickin' cool.
  • Why do they hate Al Roker so much? Every other time I see the dude, he's leaning at a 45-degree angle into a vicious wind, dodging flying debris. I think they send him into the middle of hurricanes because they're trying to by-god kill the man.
  • Some lady is training special "labradoodles" to act as "smelling nose" dogs for kids with peanut allergies. Where were these kids when I was little? I mean, we got the one regulation Frail Child per classroom, but now it seems like half the class is running around with asthma inhalers and epipens, making Eddie Kaspbrak from It look like the "After" picture from Charles Atlas ads.

31 comments:

Nathan said...

Sally and I have discussed the "frail children" issue at length. We've decided that most of the the problem is due to parents not allowing their kids to get out and roll in the dirt anymore. You know, like we did when we were kids. When we picked up all that natural immunity to the world around us.

Oh, and we've also decided that the great "peanut allergy" scare itself is a self-fulfilling prophecy -- that is to say, parents are scared to death by all the peanut allergy stories they hear and don't expose the little ones to peanut butter as infants, so the kids grow up without any acquired immunity/resistance to aflatoxins -- and hey presto, they're allergic to peanuts!

I'll take my million-dollar federal grant money for this great insight now, thanks.

Brigid said...

Special training my ass. Barkley can smell out a nuclear fragment of peanut in the pocket of my jeans from 200 yards.

taylor said...

Actually, a large portion of it can be attributed to the number of at-risk pregnancies that are brought to term.

My wife is a nurse, and since were wanting to have kids and getting close to starting down that road we talk about pregnancy and kids a good bit. Apparently the rate of miscarriage is about 1 in 5. historically a large number of those were very pre-mature births (pre-30 weeks, full term being 40 weeks), and simply died.

Couple a doubling of the pre-term birth rate with the advent of NICU units and 'preemie' care, meaning more of these children survive than ever, and suddenly you have a lot of children running around with compromised immune systems (among other nastier problems) and a cloud of helicopter parents hovering near by screaming about how special their little snowflake is.

Its not just you Tam, it really is changing.

alath said...

The other comments about frail children are valid - but one point in addition is that the peanut allergy scare is not too far removed from a scam/hoax. The belief that large numbers of children have potentially fatal peanut allergies is the work of one woman who - well, "fudged the data" is too mild a description. Amongst other crimes against science, she quoted the number of all anaphylaxis deaths whatsoever as the number of children killed by peanut allergy. This person has made a career out of her personal peanut allgery crusade, and it's gotten WAY out of hand.

RevolverRob said...

I think Nathan is right in this regard. It is the over-mothering/smothering of children that is reducing their immune systems and making them susceptible to these kinds of things.

My sister is due with her first in a couple of weeks. Several weeks ago, she was talking about how her child wouldn't do this, that, etc. Finally, I looked at her and said, "I did this and that, etc. And I'm fine. If you treat your kid like he is a priceless piece of artwork, he's going to end up with a peanut allergy. He's a kid, don't drop him or shake him. Clean him up when he is dirty."

-Rob

PS: WV: adiebai, I'm not sure why, but that's hilarious.

Matt G said...

You've got three inches on that Hoda chick, Tam. She's just wafer thin, making her look taller than she is.

We all hate Al Roker. A guy who gets gastric bypass surgery to lose 100 pounds and then supplements his career by doing cooking shows and writing cookbooks sticks in our craw.

When I was kid learning about George Washington Carver's work with the peanut, I thought that his honor surely would be greater than Fulton, or Edison, or Ford, so ubiquitous was the peanut butter product in my classroom. Now, a kid with a PBJ in his backpack is treated like a jihadist with a satchel charge.

Old Grouch said...

"...a kid with a PBJ in his backpack is treated like a jihadist with a satchel charge."

No, the jihadist with the satchel charge gets psychological counseling and all sorts of excuses.

The kid with the PBJ gets the 20-minute hate followed by expulsion.

(Gotta get with the program, there.)

karrde said...

What's weird about the peanut-allergy thing is that I've known exactly one person to have it.

My younger brother.

I managed to have PBJ's for lunch right next to him (at my parent's table) for years, and he never reacted to the PBJ on my plate. But he didn't react well when my Mother gave him a taste of peanut butter at the age of 2.

Allergies like that are rare and real. It would be better if they were not overhyped.

But the way that information travels in this world, it would be forgotten if it was not hyped.

Tam said...

Matt,

Celebrity Height Rule Of Thumb: If a male celeb admits to a height of less than 5'10", subtract 1-3 inches. If a female celeb admits to a height greater than 5'7", add 1-3 inches. :p

Anonymous said...

"Sally and I have discussed the "frail children" issue at length. We've decided that most of the the problem is due to parents not allowing their kids to get out and roll in the dirt anymore. You know, like we did when we were kids. When we picked up all that natural immunity to the world around us."

My oldest daughter is allergic to peaches and sweet potatoes (can't even touch them without developing breathing problems), yet she plays outside and in the dirt frequently. She's hardly kept away from nature.

"Couple a doubling of the pre-term birth rate with the advent of NICU units and 'preemie' care, meaning more of these children survive than ever, and suddenly you have a lot of children running around with compromised immune systems (among other nastier problems) and a cloud of helicopter parents hovering near by screaming about how special their little snowflake is."

I was born 2 months premature in the 70s, as was my brother. I have a touch of asthma, which isn't severe enough for me to take drugs, nor does it interfere with my cycling, hunting, and other activities. Bro had allergies, but a few years of shots took care of the worst of it.


My wife works with children and has seen real responses to peanut exposure (not just a parent freaking out). Our own child, the one with the peach and sweet tater allergy, developed symptoms that lead us to learning she was allergic as an infant. Since we're not allergic to any foods, we didn't expect her to be either.

Chris

OA said...

"We all hate Al Roker. A guy who gets gastric bypass surgery to lose 100 pounds and then supplements his career by doing cooking shows and writing cookbooks sticks in our craw."

The fact that his head didn't lose any weight isn't helping any, either.

And believe it or not George Washington Carver didn't invent peanut butter. The Inca's did well before his time. He did however popularize its use.

perlhaqr said...

We're breeding for weakness by not letting Darwin do His Work.

It's a nasty, rough, harsh truth... but it's still true.

D.W. Drang said...

Hoda who?

Al who?

Jeeze, I'm out of touch...

I vaguely recall seeing something a couple of months ago about "gradually helping kids get over a peanut allergy." I can't imagine not being able to have a PBJ as a kid, to this day I'm as likely to pack a PBJ in my lunchbox as leftover whatevers. (Drives Mrs;. Drang nuts.)

When my sister was pregnant with her first, and my mother was listing all the things that she had stopped doing "for the duration" I wondered aloud to Mom (ICU Nurse) what effect these wide-spread changes in behaviors were going to have on the human race. I think we're getting an idea...

Jenny said...

As a former "that kid" I can attest making little clay ponies all day long in the mud doesn't keep you from having allergies (peanut and otherwise) from hell, asthma, and whatallese. I think Taylor's on to something though... 70's medicine was enough to keep this kid alive just after birth.. prolly wouldn't have made it just a few decades earlier.

.. evolutionary bio is a great explanatory force and a fantastic tool for improving life. It makes a crap-poor life philosophy though.

Matt G said...

OA-- Oh, trust me, I know Geo W. Carver didn't invent ground peanuts. But it is true that he figured out quite a bit to do with the lowly goober, and the schoolbooks seemed to want us to believe that PB was his greatest invention. ;)

Timmeehh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timmeehh said...

Perlhaqr wins this one.

And what's a Hoda?

OA said...

"...and the schoolbooks seemed to want us to believe that PB was his greatest invention."

To be fair, it certainly sounds better than peanut butter shampoo.

Jenny said...

Win Contested. :)

One of the most awesome things about a technological society is we now have the ability to tell Darwin to sit the heck down and shut the heck up.

Sure we get loads of whiny babies out of the deal.. we also get Teddy Roosevelts and Stephen Hawkings and countless less famous folk who either make fantastic contributions in spite of disability, or tell Mother Nature her dice roll just wasn't good enough, dammit, so sit back and watch some honest-to-God flourishing in spite of her.

I daresay the latter souls are forged hardier than Darwin's favored children when all is said and done.

farmist said...

Another possibility on the peanut allergy explosion: fewer kids are breastfed, and get soy-based formula instead. Exposure to soy at such a young age predisposes the child to developing peanut allergy later in life.

reflectoscope said...

Jenny - the problem there lies in the chance of the collapse of the gossamer-thin bubble of technology upon which we've built such comfortable lives. If that goes... we're f*cked.

Jim

LabRat said...

Allergies still have a big biological and evolutionary question mark over them. The theory that seems to make the most sense right now is bits of the immune system designed to deal with parasites that simply have nothing to do in a modern context and are prone to developing reactions to innocuous or not-very-noxious substances (like aflatoxins, which are in fact toxins), but none of the ones with any legs to them have anything to do with failing to expose kids to plenty of dirt or with compromised immune systems. Allergies are an overreaction on the part of that system, not a failure to react.

I think alath is closest- food allergies are real, and so are dangerous food allergies, but they are much, much less common than is believed. Bad individual reactions to certain kinds of food are more common, but people tend to assume they're all allergies; not being able to digest grains very well, to pick a random example, is an entirely different thing than your body freaking out and trying to kill wheat proteins with immunoglobulin-E.

I was yet another kid that played in the dirt, had a somewhat indifferent housekeeper as a parent, and was exposed to hell and back. I don't get sick very often, but I sure as hell get pounded during allergy season. I have always shrugged off parasites rather than having to drink the Flagyl when drinking the questionable water during Nature Expeditions, though...

Ian Argent said...

@Reflectoscope: if the bubble of technology fails, the physically weaker may be the first ones up against the 4 horsemen, but they'll have plenty of company. And the remaining 10% or so live Hobbsian lives until they can get back to advancing...

Charles Pergiel said...

Eat more sauerkraut.

Fenris said...

I know my friend in Australia is not allowed to send her kids to school with *anything* nut derived for fear of it coming into contact with someone allergic.

OA said...

When dealing with cats, dogs, livestock, or pretty much any other animal aside from humans people have absolutely no problem admitting "that kids" are due to crappy breading. It's apparently rather unsavory to say when speaking of people, though.

reflectoscope said...

Ian - I agree. It would be messy and cruel, but life at its roots is like that, no?

Jim

Ian Argent said...

@Reflectoscope: Life in the US is *not* hobbseian right now. Observing that if the underpinnings crash the weaker members of society get it in the neck is trivially obvious. So is me noting that it's not *just* the weaker that are going down.

If the sewage hits the impeller in any major way, the entire eastern seaboard is HOSED - colander-on-face time to quote our host.

perlhaqr said...

To be fair, I'm personally the worst kind of evolutionary unfitness: I'm not breeding at all.

Bobby Nations said...

There's a lot of advice on this thread on the best way to raise children, much of which seems to be given by those who've never done so. Back in my pre-child days, I too thought that I had it all figured out. Now, I know better. Really, not to be blunt, but if you don't have children, then a nice cup of STFU is the best policy when tempted to offer parenting tips to those of us in the arena, so to speak.

Personally, I have no idea if allergies to peanuts or anything at all are more prevalent now than they used to be in the good old days. If they are, then there are probably hundreds of hypotheses that might explain why that is so. For all we know, it's just a matter of better reporting and associated record keeping. At any rate, it's not that difficult to work around a child with peanut allergies. My daughter gets to take peanut butter sandwiches to school. My son doesn't because one of his classmates is allergic. So, he eats them at home instead. Frankly, it's not that big of a deal.

Silver the Evil Chao said...

I played outside a LOT when I was a kid, lived in many different places. Things like that. My parents sure as hell didn't shelter me like a "special snowflake", and they treated my sisters (who are 2 1/2 years younger) the same way.

Yet I'm the one with asthma and the plethora of allergies, while my sisters are far healthier (and they have better teeth, too). I never let it stop me (on my fifth year of marching band!), and my asthma and allergies were found out in high school, so I guess my case is different. Amusingly enough, the vast majority of the allergies I possess are for plants that grow in Las Vegas (where I lived for eight years).